The Enduring Spirit of the Nutcracker

How the Russian Ballet Became a Christmas Tradition in America

Moscow Ballet production of 'Nutcracker'

hide captionThe Moscow Ballet's production of Nutcracker. Photo: Anne Peterson.

Nutcracker Nation

hide captionJennifer Fisher's Nutcracker Nation looks at the history of the ballet.

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For millions of Americans, it just wouldn't be Christmas without seeing a production of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. Surprisingly, the ballet never really took off in Russia, its country of origin. The ballet was first performed in St. Petersburg in 1892. Talk of the Nation explores the journey the Nutcracker took on its way to becoming a holiday mainstay, and looks at modern interpretations — including a jazz-hip hop production.

NPR's Neal Conan speaks with Jennifer Fisher, whose book Nutcracker Nation looks at historical productions of the ballet. Columnist Judith Martin (Miss Manners) also advises parents on how the ballet can be a teaching opportunity for parents.

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